Magazine editor doubles down on anti-Welsh language rhetoric following backlash
A magazine editor has doubled down on anti-Welsh language rhetoric following an online backlash.
The Critic had come under fire for an article by writer Jonathan Meades that described attempts to increase the number of Welsh speakers as a “totalitarian project” and the “moribund” language itself as a tool of “self-harm and curtailment”.
Huw Edwards and others had criticised the publication of the derogatory article, with the Welsh newsreader saying: “Meades is a brilliant writer and I have enjoyed his work over many years. I can only assume he’s skint. Nothing else can explain this bilge.”
The magazine’s editor Christopher Montgomery, has lashed out at the torrent of criticism in a series of angry tweets.
The former strategist for the Tory eurosceptic group, the ERG, who was previously Chief of Staff to Northern Irish unionist party, the DUP, said: “Who knew that smug, entitled, tax-spoonfed, middle class, midwit cultural chauvinists would also be brittle, screechy & intolerant? ‘Official languages’ aren’t just languages for self-serving officials, they’re also dear to the Konrad Henleins of Twitter.
“Twitter *is* a false metric, but the state of this Down pointing backhand index.
“Death threats, threats of violence, whinging appeals to censorship, obnoxiously solipsistic cries of RACISM (for being disagreed with on a public policy hobbyhorse: namely mandatory, artificial, taxpayer funded bilingualism).
“Proponents of, ‘more Welsh, because!’ will be better than the frothing reaction to Jonathan Meades yesterday. All the best people aren’t on Twitter. Some of the smuggest people are. ‘I’m paid considerably more by the Beeb than yew’ being a particularly telling reaction.”
“It’s almost as if there’s an agenda, rather than some natural swelling up of what people actually prefer to do. The people with the agenda definitely don’t like it being pointed out. And they get remarkably angry if Marseilles-based writers presume to do so. The dirty English dog.”
Social media expert Owen Williams responded: “I don’t understand, Christopher. Your periodical published a rather poor piece on the ‘need’ for a language the author doesn’t speak, and you’re *surprised* by the somewhat venomous reaction from speakers of said language? Help me out here. What did you expect?
‘One million people’
In his column for The Critic, Jonathan Meades wrote: “This is the Welsh Government’s totalitarian project which aims to have one million people speaking Welsh by that date. That’s twice the (much exaggerated) number that is currently claimed to speak the language. What, in this context, does ‘speak’ mean?
“The capacity to make a simple purchase? Or the ability to discuss why R.S. Thomas, a fundamentalist nationalist whose politics could be ugly and naive but whose poetry is thrillingly harsh, seldom composed in Welsh (which he had begun to learn in middle age) and then with a certain trepidation. Thomas wrote of his compatriots: ‘An impotent people sick with inbreeding.’
“In an effort to maintain that sickness, a minimum of 60 extra ‘Welsh-medium nursery groups’ will be opened by 2026. Why? Why teach a moribund language whose survival depends on ‘initiatives’? Policy decrees these speakers are needed. Needed for what? For the sake of Welshness perhaps, to give the bogus bardic tradition new legs?”
The writer also complained about the move to give Welsh and English “equal” status in Wales, and claimed that the Welsh Government has a “splendid breeding programme based on lebensborn: women will be paid to bear children so that they can be brought up Welsh”.
He suggested that the policy for a bilingual Wales was putting children in a “linguistic straightjacket”.
For reasons that are not immediately apparent, the slogan of The Critic is: “The magazine of ideas for open-minded readers.”
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